Sunken boat lifted; five Greyhound jawans still missing

Published: Tuesday, July 8, 2008, 21:38 [IST]
 

Bhubaneswar, Jul 8 (UNI) The ill-fated motor boat, which sank inside the Chitrakonda reservoir at Alampeka along with 36 Greyhound Commandos of Andhra Pradesh following a naxalite attack on June 29 last, was finally brought to the jetty today, ending the eight-day -long rescue operation, jointly carried out by Andhra Pradesh and Orissa police along with Naval and ONGC divers.

Malkangiri Superintendent of Police S K Gojbhiye when contacted over phone said so far bodies of 32 Greyhound commandos and one Orissa police constable had been recovered from the reservoir, while five Greyhound jawans were still missing.

DIG South Western Range Sanjeeb Panda said three hotair balloons were pressed into service for the past few days to retrieve the boat from 50-mt-deep water.

The boat was finally toed to the nearby jetty by two vessels.

Police suspected that some bodies of the Greyhound jawans might have been drowned inside the reservoir during the salvage operation of the boat.

The search operation would resume tomorrow to trace the five missing Greyhound jawans.

The rescue team had to use the latest sonar equipment and sought the help of the National Remote Sensing Agency to trace the missing jawans inside the reservoir.

The Greyhound jawans were returning on the morning of June 29 after a combing operation in the cut-off areas on the Orissa-Andhra border when the Naxalites hiding on a hill-top near Alampeka, about 80 km from Malkangiri, attacked the force with grenades and fired indiscriminately from the LMGs.

The boat carrying 66 personnel could not sustain the heavy exchange of fire and capsized in the reservoir along with 36 Greyhound jawans and two Orissa police constables.

28 jawans could swim to shore and saved their lives from the onslaught of the naxalites.

Mr Gojbhiye said some weapons were also found inside the boat, while other weapons carried by the Greyhound were located below the mud inside the water of the reservoir.

He said the counting of the weapons recovered during the search operation was going on and efforts would be made to retrieve the missing weapons from the reservoir.

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